The difference between working "in" and "on" your business. – Trajan King

The difference between working “in” and “on” your business.

If you run a business you know that you need to fulfill a lot of different roles. Sales, marketing, accounting, setting a strategy and vision, HR, product development, supply chain, legal, financing, etc. The younger the business, the more you have to do yourself. As the business grows, you start to offload the work to new hires. This process of working on your business is covered very well in the book “The E-Myth” that I talked about in the Favorite Business Books video.

With all the different tasks that need to be completed every day, how can an entrepreneur manage time between producing and managing? In other words, when do you “get work done” and produce content and new products and how much time do you spend managing the business?

Working “In” vs. “On”

The former is referred to as “working in the business” and the later, “working on the business.” When working in the business, you’re spending time like an employee, making things happen as if you worked there, which you do as an owner.

Often, as the owner, you must step back and take a look at the business from the outside so you can work on improving the way the business operates. This is what people mean when they say they’re working “on” the business.

Generally, people are great at one or the other and tend to gravitate to that which they like more. For example, a creative person would gravitate toward product development and content creation and neglect the accounting. On the other hand, an analytical person may prefer to spend more of their time working on the books and building forecasting spreadsheets.

It’s important to be aware of this distinction as entrepreneurs manage their time to ensure that all the tasks are given attention and not just the ones we like to work on.

Bry Cox and I discuss this and more in the video below.

When do you work “in” the business and when do you work “on” the business? How do you schedule your time? Share your method in the comments section below.

Timeline highlights:

1:30 – Set aside time for each.
2:18 – Your business many suffer if you spend too much time in the weeds as a Producer. Step back and look at the forest for the trees.
3:23 – Bry lists out all his processes and tasks he does in his business, then schedules them on different days and times. At least once a week he sets aside time to evaluate the strategy, marketing, etc. During the morning he does the stuff he likes doing least, like email or billing.
5:30 – We all gravitate to what we like doing the most, so it’s important to schedule the unpleasant tasks to ensure they get done.
7:35 – Not doing the unpleasant things will catch up with you.
8:13 – Book recommendation: The E-Myth Revisited. Discusses how to manage all the different roles an entrepreneur must take on.

Related book: “The E-Myth Revisited”

Who is Trajan King?

CFO & former Wall Street analyst helping your reach financial independence.

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Trajan King

Hey hey. I'm Trajan. I'm a minimalist entrepreneur who loves exploring the world (42 countries), learning new things (7 languages) and trying to get better every day (working on my backsquat).

I write about entrepreneurship and building an optimized and happy life through systems, good habits and scientific research.

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